My Favorite Solution to Toddler Mealtime
As a parent, feeding my nearly two-year-old often feels like a daunting and overwhelming job. I need to nourish him, but I also want to teach him to try new things (even when he doesn’t want to!) and enjoy a variety of food. The struggle to balance tried-and-true foods he enjoys with offering variety and new food exposure is real! Add in doing this in the midst of a pandemic and it feels near impossible!
My approach to mealtimes has become simpler in these times. Instead of trying to think of creative new recipes for every meal, I make it a goal to provide my son a protein, a carbohydrate, and a fruit and/or vegetable at each meal. Simplifying it in this way has helped me to make sure that he is getting the nutrients he needs in a way that is manageable for me, while guaranteeing he gets exposed to new foods with a variety of colors, flavors and textures. If I can get a protein, carb and veggie or fruit on his plate at lunchtime, I’m confident he’ll be a happy, nourished and not-too-picky kid—and I’ll be a less-stressed mom.
A staple in our home is quesadillas. My son loves them, and they are so quick and easy to throw together. Mikey’s new superfood tortillas have become our go-to tortillas. I love that there are four different options that vary in color and nutritional content. They contain vegetables too, which is a huge plus! Using Mikey’s tortillas, I can now feed my son quesadillas multiple times a week but still feel like I am mixing up what I am serving and offering him variety. I love transforming our meals by using a different tortilla, adding a different protein, and including a different cheese each time. Mikey’s tortillas have helped me to take something familiar that I know my son loves and get creative with new ways of serving it.
This principle can be applied in so many ways as you approach mealtime with your child. Is macaroni and cheese a favorite in your home? Mix up the pasta shape each time you serve it, try a new type of cheese, or add a favorite vegetable or protein! Are sandwiches an easy lunch option? Change the way you cut them, try different bread, or a unique spread like hummus or avocado!
Ultimately, we’re all just trying to do our best. It’s great when we can find small ways to continue to feed our children well while also being reasonable in what we are able to manage. Keep up the hard work, parents, and look for easy ways to add variety by making small changes to the foods you’re used to serving!
By Ariel Perry
Photo by Erica Batterman, @bowlobsessed